One of these days I'll do an entire entry about the brother I mentioned yesterday. For that matter, the rest of the family. There was actually a time when we all lived together in a house with parents. And everything.
When I was about eight, and brother was a junior in high school (yeah, in those days even producing children wasn't done at quite the rushed pace we use now) he teased / challenged me to read some book faster. I think the situation was something along the lines of "I can read faster than you, retard." Sibling love.
Not one to let an opportunity pass which would prove my self worth, I started reading everything. Everything. Novels, textbooks, auto mechanics how-to's, magazines, they were all the same to me. Our house had a lower middle class income level but the collection of printed material was right up there with your basic English country estate. I read so often, and so intensively, I think perhaps I scared my Mother a little bit.
Mom: "Outfoxed, I want you to stop now and rest your eyes"
Me: "But Mom, I'm almost finished."
Mom: (making clucking sounds with tongue) "You're going to ruin your eyes."
She never demanded that I actually stop reading, bless her. Only to rest my eyes. It might have been the first time I realized that sometimes adults say things which have a double meaning. What she really wanted to say would have been something more like "Son, you go ahead and read. Read all you want because that's where the soul of your life might be. People, some people, are able to express their words better in the printed form than they ever could in speech. And your Dad and I want you to learn, to go to school and have the education they offer. But there, son, there in the books, is where you will really find out what knowledge is."
Fast forward a few years and my high school sister got a part time job in, of all places, the town library. A bit of a reader herself, she used to bring home a book or two every week for me.
Well now. I had a sister with the inside track on the library gig.
The books started rolling in. I'd go up there on a Friday evening and come home with a dozen. Take them back (yes, I read them) on Monday and get another arm load. With practice came speed, you see. It was an intoxication without shame. To this day I can't go into a library without amassing a pile of books, although my visits are far less frequent now. More's the pity.
For certain, I got a little more picky about the authors. There are times when I pick up a novel to read on the road (think airport vending stores) and find myself about halfway through it and realize that the author is just piling up verbage in an effort to produce a saleable product. Of course there are other times when I pick up a gem and just lose myself.
Ally has come to recognize the symptons. She'll find me huddled in an obscure corner of the house with a book and sigh. Carry on an entire conversation with herself with little hope of rousing me. Because my brain has shut off the outside world. I love that feeling. I love the desire to turn pages and drink in the lovliness of prose when it's good. When a writer turns the words around and tweaks and tickles and spins. When it appears effortless. When no one in the world is more important than the lead character and the journey he takes, and my desire to be that character. That one who lives within the pages of delight that make up the sixth dimension - between the author's mind and mine.
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